Published on April 20th, 2013 | by Mark Gibson, Editor/Community Manager
Past Due Review | NASCAR The Game: Inside Line
Platform: Xbox 360 [reviewed], PS3, Wii
Genre: Sports, Racing
Review Notes: A copy of the game was received for the Xbox 360 console for review purposes.
There are a lot of viable choices out there when looking for a quality racing game. Forza, Need for Speed, and Grand Tourismo are just a few of the “go to” motorsport simulations. However, these games share a similar feature – road racing. It’s hard to imagine a racing game where all you do is make left turns as enjoyable. NASCAR is of course the flagship sport when you think racing, and NASCAR The Game: Inside Line is actually a decent representation of the prohibition pastime sport.
Before you label this game as “the left turn” sport, you should know there is a lot more involved in NASCAR than meets the eye. This is something that you learn pretty quickly once you get on the track for your first practice run. Inside Line is centered around your career. You start by building your driver, race team, and customizing your stock car. The only disappointment here is not being able to edit the look of your actual driver. While you don’t necessarily see the drivers in motion outside the cars, it would have at least been a neat feature to upload a photo of yourself for the racing profile. Instead, you are given a generic generated face.
Working through your career will prove to be challenging at first. You will have to earn “Cr” credits to spend on car upgrades in order to have a more efficient and competitive stock car. However, this is where the replay value on career mode falls short. Once you’ve made a pretty decent car, winning races will be a breeze.
The AI (artificial intelligence) of the other drivers are very robotic and slightly baffling. There are times where accidents are caused simply for the fact that the AI tells a car “you must go to the inside lane when turning here”, so the AI car makes a jerky sudden turn clipping the back end of your car causing you to spin out. At first this may just seem like strategy, but after several times, it becomes more apparent that there is no tactical strategy implemented in the AI drivers whatsoever. This particularly apparent when watching the behavior of the drivers. There are times when cars will be “drafting” (this means you are catching the back draft of another car which will accelerate you without having to press hard on the gas). In a typical “drafting” situation, you stay behind the car momentarily in order to slingshot around for a pass or pull you forward while coming off a slow turn. There are some cases where an AI car looks like it is towing another car. It isn’t a draft, and it is not a bumper tap. It is literally two cars on the same programmed path making the same programmed turns and the exact same time.
Aside from the odd AI design, the game can be quite addicting. The online multiplayer does tend to crash, but the focus of the game seems to be more on single player career than multiplayer. It is a shame that multiplayer seemed to be pushed to the side on quality, especially with a racing game. It would have been interesting had they implemented an “online career” mode like most sports titles this year. This would allow for gamers to create actual racing teams with friends and compete in races as a tactical team.
The biggest aspect of NASCAR is the experience of the track. The sights, sounds, smells, and hype of a race day are all part of the fun. The game does an excellent job of capturing the sights and sounds of a high speed racetrack. It is a little mind numbing hearing the constant hum of your engine for a long race, but this sound isn’t a distraction. It actually causes you to focus more on your race tactics. However, it would have been good to see more pre and post race footage. A bigger build up to the race and more announcer commentary would have made it feel more like a real NASCAR broadcast.
Overall, NASCAR The Game: Inside Line is a decent sequel to the original game from Activision. While EA seems to have taken a break from the NASCAR title, The Line is a decent quick pickup to fill your stock car racing fix. While the game still has much room for improvement, the career mode can be addicting and playing multiplayer locally rather than online is very enjoyable. You will share many laughs and ridiculous crashed with your friends.
+ Decent NASCAR game with addictive career mode
+ Car customization can keep you fixed for hours
+ Good presentation with graphics and sound
– Driver AI makes poor decisions and seems robotic
– Online Multiplayer seems broken and often crashes
– No race commentary or enough broadcast elements during a race